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China adopts law on traditional medicine

(Xinhua)    09:48, December 26, 2016

China's top legislature on Sunday adopted a law on traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) to give TCM a bigger role in the medical system.

The Law on Traditional Chinese Medicine was approved at the end of a seven-day session of the National People's Congress (NPC) Standing Committee which concluded on Sunday afternoon.

Huang Wei, deputy director of the NPC Standing Committee commission for legislative affairs, said the law, which will go into effect on July 1, 2017, is a significant step in the development of TCM. It is key to reform of medical and health sectors and the drive toward a "Healthy China."

According to the new law, county-level governments and above must set up TCM institutions in public-funded general hospitals and mother and child care centers. Private investment will be encouraged in these institutions.

All TCM practitioners must pass tests. Apprentices and previously unlicensed specialists with considerable medical experience may only begin practice when they have recommendations from at least two qualified practitioners and pass relevant tests.

With a history of more than 2,000 years, TCM is seen by many as a national treasure in China for its unique theories and practices, such as herbal medicine, acupuncture, massage and dietetics.

This is especially the case since Tu Youyou won the 2015 Nobel Prize for her work using artemisinin to treat malaria.

But there is also considerable skepticism of TCM in the face of Western medicine, particularly over the former's training and funding, and an aversion to using modern clinical tests. Animal-rights activists have also raised questions.

To this end, the new law said China puts TCM and Western medicine on equal footing in China,with better training for TCM professionals, with TCM and Western medicine learn from each other and complementing each other.

The state will support TCM research and development and protect TCM intellectual property.

Special protection will be given to TCM formulas that are considered state secrets, it said.

Use of technology and expansion of TCM in dealing with emergency public health incidents and diseases prevention and control should increase.

The state will protect medical resources including protection and breeding of rare or endangered wildlife, the law said.

The law went on to pledge enhanced supervision of raw TCM materials, banning the use of toxic pesticides.

International exchanges and cooperation on TCM should expand.

According to the World Health Organization, 103 member states have approved the practice of acupuncture and moxibustion, 29 have statutes on traditional medicine, and 18 have included acupuncture and moxibustion in medical insurance provisions.

"The new law on traditional Chinese medicine will improve global TCM influence, and give a boost to China's soft power," Huang said.

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Web editor: Zhang Tianrui, Bianji)

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